Two Motives

Toward a Doctrine of Post-Philosophic Mysticism




Messianism was not the issue, as Maimonides saw it. Aside from one possible allusion in a letter, Maimonides taught a sober, realistic view of the messianic era: [1] "Do not even think that, in the days of the messiah, so much as one of the customary ways of the universe will be abolished, or that any novelty will occur in the laws of creation. Rather, the universe will proceed according to its customary pattern." In fact, Maimonides went out his way to make it clear that the messianic period was only a means to a larger end: [2]

Because of this [doctrine of the world-to-come], all of Israel, its prophets and its sages, yearn for the days of the messiah so that they will be relieved of the burden of domination by others who do not allow them to occupy themselves with Torah and mitsvot as one should; so that they find tranquility and multiply the number of their sages in order to merit life in the world-to-come.... For the end of all reward and the ultimate good which has no end and no lack is life in the world-to-come. However, the days of the messiah are of this world, and the universe will proceed on its customary pattern, except that sovereignty will return to Israel. The early sages have already said, 'There will be no difference between this world and the messianic time, except that Israel will not be subject to the nations.'"

Maimonides was also very clear that the "world-to-come" already exists: [3] "That the sages called it 'the world-to-come' is not because it does not already exist and that this world will pass away and afterward will come the world-to-come -- this is not so. Rather, it is already in existence, ongoing, as it says ... They only called it 'the world-to-come' because that life comes to a person after life in this world in which we exist in a body and soul...."

The telos of human existence, then, is not the messianic era but the world-to-come. What does one have to do to merit that? At the minimum, one must have proper praxis; that is, a Jew must observe the halakha. To help Jews live a halakhic life and, therefore to enable them to fulfill their purpose within creation, Maimonides wrote his code of Jewish law which encompasses the entire range of Jewish life, even its messianic dimensions. To merit a fuller place in the world-to-come, however, one must also have proper gnosis; that is, one must have proper knowlege of God and God's creation. Further, this knowledge must be as rooted as possible in logical proofs; it must be conviction, not just opinion. [4] To help Jews live an intellectually proper life and, therefore to enable them to fulfill their purpose within creation, Maimonides wrote his philosophic work which encompasses the entire range of human and Torah wisdom. He also adumbrated this intellectual requirement for personal salvation in his code of Jewish law. [5]

Was there nothing else? Were proper praxis and proper gnosis the telos of human existence? Were halakha and de´a [6] the whole purpose of Jewish life? Our colleague, Paul Fenton, has demonstrated amply that the descendants of Maimonides clearly understood their distinguished ancestor to have taught that there was an additional stage of meditative experience that served as a requirement for the world-to-come for the most advanced persons. [7] Elsewhere, I have shown that the Yemenite followers of Maimonides also understood him to be teaching an additional stage of philosophic mystical experience as a necessary step toward life in the world-to-come. [8] Various kabbalistic and hasidic traditions also read Maimonides this way. But, what of the master himself? In 1984, in Strasbourg, I delivered a paper arguing that Maimonides himself taught that there was a stage beyond halakha and de´a; that, in his various writings, Maimonides uses vocabulary that clearly indicates that he understood that there was a religious stage beyond philosophy which was a prerequisite to life in the world-to-come. [9] Given the resistance to this thesis among scholars of Jewish philosophy, Jewish mysticism, and Jewish studies in general, it seems useful to review the evidence. Much hangs in the balance, spiritually as well as historically.

Two Motives

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The book of Devarim speaks about love of God eighteen times. In six places, it speaks of God's love for the people and, in the remaining twelve, it speaks of the people's love for God. It is the latter category that concerns Maimonides. What is humankind's love of God? How does one love God? The question is especially pressing since two of these verses are recited liturgically at least twice a day by traditional Jews: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might" (Dt. 6:5) and "... to love the Lord, your God, and to worship Him with all your heart and with all your soul ..." (Dt. 11:13).

The root 'ahav, in its sense of humankind's love for God, is linked in Deuteronomy with six other verbs. It is most frequently linked with the shamar (observe), halakh (go in the way of), and shama´ (listen to, obey). The lesson, here, is simple: one loves God by observing God's commands, by going in God's way, and by listening to, or obeying, God. This is the dimension of religious praxis, the first Maimonidean prerequisite for life in the world-to-come.

The verb 'ahav is also linked with three other verbs: yare' (fear), davaq (cling), and ´avad (worship). As to the first, Maimonides is quite clear: [10]

God, may He be exalted, has explained that the purpose of the actions prescribed by the whole Torah is to bring about the emotion, which it is correct to bring about ... I refer to the fear of Him ( khaufihi ), may He be exalted, and awe in the presence of His command ( wa-'istihwal 'amrihi ).... For these two ends, love and fear, are achieved through two things: love through ideas taught by the Torah, which include perceptions of God's being as He, may He be exalted, really is; and fear [which] is achieved through all actions prescribed by the Torah.

Fear of God, then, according to Maimonides, is a religious affection [11] which is drawn from, and at the same time leads to, religious observance. It, too then, is linked to proper praxis.

As to davaq (cling), Maimonides is also clear: [12] "It is a positive commandment to cling to the sages and their students to learn from their deeds, as it says, 'You shall cling to Him' (Dt. 10:20). Is it possible for a person to cling to God's presence?! Rather, so did the sages say in interpreting this mitsva -- cling to the sages and their students." Clinging to God, then too, for Maimonides, is linked to normative rabbinic praxis.

This leaves only one verb associated with love open for interpretation: ´avoda, worship of God. How is love of God linked to worship of God? What is the relationship between ´avoda and 'ahava? Are they the same? Are they different and, if different, which is which? This question is all the more important because the key verse -- "... to love the Lord, your God, and to worship Him with all your heart and with all your soul ..." (Dt. 11:13) -- is part of the Sh'ma and, hence, is recited at least twice a day by observant Jews. The issue of the relationship of 'ahava to ´avoda is basic -- textually, spiritually, and liturgically. It is this Scriptural-spiritual-liturgical problem of the relationship between worship and love of God that was the first factor moving Maimonides toward a doctrine of post-philosophic mysticism.

The second factor which prompted Maimonides to allude to a realm of spirituality beyond rational philosophy was his own religious experience and / or that of the general philosophic-spiritual milieu in which he wrote. We do not, in fact, have any autobiographical religious writings of Maimonides. Such was not, and is not, the style of rationalist writers. [13] However, Maimonides does use sufi and Islamic philosophic mystical terms such as ghibta ("bliss"), 'ittihad (union"), ´ishq ("passionate love"), al-'inqita´ 'ilayhi ("total devotion"), and al-qurb minhu ("closeness to Him"). He also uses phrases taken from sufi literature such as: "The whole truth, together with the intensity of its brightness, is hidden from us"; "Then one advances to contemplating the holy divine Presence"; "He has dazzled us by His beauty [alt.: perfection] and He is hidden from us by the intensity of His brightness"; and "Apprehension of Him consists in the inablity to attain the ultimate apprehension of Him." [14] Similarly, Maimonides uses such Hebrew terms as hosheq (passionate love), simha (joy), and "death by a kiss" with a clearly experiential meaning. [15] Perhaps, most clear is Maimonides' instructions on when and how to invoke this post-philosophic state: [16]

From here on I will begin to give you guidance with regard to the form of this training so that you should achieve this great end. The first thing that you should cause your soul to hold fast unto is that, while reciting the Sh'ma, you should empty your mind of everything and pray thus....

When, however, you are alone with yourself and no one else is there and while you lie awake upon your bed, you should take great care during these precious times not to set your thought to work on anything other than that intellectual worship consisting in nearness to God and in being in His presence...

Now, it is possible for someone to cite this kind of advice and to use such mystical terms and phrases without having a clear experience of them in an historical analysis. However, as writing, these usages point to an experiential knowledge which informs and justifies the use of such language. Spiritual writing, like all great religious expression, is a true mirror of the inner awareness of the writer. Further, Maimonides is not writing this as an intellectual exercise. Rather, he is dispensing authentic teaching, Torah. This advice and these terms and phrases, then, are used with a sense of teaching integrity and reflect a personal, experiential ground. Authoritative religious teaching, like all great Torah, reflects the author's truest and deepest state of mind and heart. It is, thus, Maimonides' personal, as well as his cultural-religious awareness, [17] that was the second factor which moved him toward a doctrine of post-philosophic mysticism. It was his need to teach authoritatively an intellectualist spirituality, which he knew in its own terms, that propelled him to go beyond philosophy.

Scripture, liturgy, and personal experience, then, compelled Maimonides to teach, or at least to allude to, a state of religious being beyond thought. Jewish law on the subject of proper religious devotion ( kavvana ) and the need to give authoritative instruction in these matters, within the paradigm of philosophic mysticism, moved Maimonides to give instruction, though often indirectly, about the proper spiritual state beyond rational thinking toward which the informed practitioner of religion should aspire.

Toward a Doctrine of Post-Philosophic Mysticism

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The following passage is particularly clear in that Maimonides distinguishes between the intellectual love of God (Heb. 'ahava, Ar. mahabba ) and the post-intellectual love, or worship, of God (Heb. ´avoda, Ar. ´ibada ), indicating precisely that worship is a stage which comes after love: [18]

Let us now return to the subject of this chapter which is to confirm people in the intention to set their thoughts to work on God alone after they have achieved knowledge of Him, as we have explained. This is the worship ( al-´ibada ) peculiar to those who have [already] apprehended the true realities....

This kind of worship ( al-´ibada ) ought only to be engaged in after intellectual conception has been achieved. If, however, you have apprehended God and His acts in accordance with what is required by the intellect, you should afterwards engage in totally devoting yourself to Him, endeavor to come close to Him, and strengthen the bond between you and Him -- that is, the intellect....

The Torah has made it clear that this latter worship to which we have drawn attention can only be engaged in after apprehension has been achieved, as it says, "to love ( le-'ahava ) the Lord, your God, and to worship Him ( u-le-´ovdo ) with all your heart and with all your soul" (Dt. 11:13 [used in the Sh'ma]).

Now we have made it clear several times that love ( al-mahabba ) is proportionate to apprehension. After love ( 'ahava ) comes this worship ( al-´ibada ) to which attention has been drawn by the sages, may their memory be a blesssing, who said, 'This is worship in the heart'.... Therefore, you will find that David exhorted Solomon and fortified him in these two things, I mean in his endeavor to apprehend Him and in his endeavor to worship Him after apprehension had been achieved. He said, 'You, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and worship Him' (1 Chron. 28:9)....

Thus it is clear that after apprehension, total devotion to Him and the employment of intellectual thought in passionate love for Him should be aimed at....

In the very same passage, Maimonides also defines the difference between love and worship, indicating clearly that love of God is intellectual, rational, analytic, and philosophic while worship of God is spiritual, meditative, experiential, and mystical:

Let us now return to the subject of this chapter.... This is the worship peculiar to those who have [already] apprehended the true realities; the more they think of Him and are with Him (zadu' fikratan fihi wal-maqam ´indahu ), the more their worship increases....

If, however, you have apprehended God and His acts in accordance with what is required by the intellect, you should afterwards engage in totally devoting yourself to Him ( ta'khudh fi al-inqita´ 'ilayhi ), endeavor to come close to Him ( wa-tas´i nahwa qurbahu ), and strengthen the bond ( wa-taghlut al-wusla ) between you and Him -- that is, the intellect....

After love comes this worship to which attention has been drawn by the sages, may their memory be a blesssing, who said, 'This is worship in the heart ( ´avoda she-ba-lev ).' In my opinion it consists in setting thought to work on the first intelligible ( 'i´mal al-fikr fi al-ma´qul al-'awwal ) and in devoting oneself exclusively to this (wal-'infirad li-dhalika ) as far as this is in one's capacity....

Thus it is clear that after apprehension, total devotion to Him ( al-inqita´ 'ilayhi ) and the employment of intellectual thought in passionate love for Him ( ´ishqihi ) should be aimed at. Mostly this is achieved in solitude and isolation ( bil-khilwa wal-'infirad ). Hence every person striving for excellence [19] stays frequently in solitude and does not meet anyone unless it is necessary.

These two major contributions to the development of Jewish intellectual spirituality -- that there is a spiritual stage beyond the intellectual, and that it is characterized by a mediative, experiential, indeed mystical mode -- are repeated again and again by Maimonides in his Guide for the Perplexed , chapter 51, part three. [20] Indeed, the whole structure of that chapter is intended to deal only with this theme. The chapter has five parts. The first [21] is the well-known typology of those who seek to enter the palace of the sultan. In it, those who study mathematics and logic are outside the palace, those who study physics and metaphysics are in the inner court, and those who have gone beyond that are in the ruler's council. The latter is the equivalent of prophecy and Maimonides differentiates various levels thereof.

The second part of this chapter [22] is the typology of those who worship God. Those lowest on the rung are those who worship without knowledge, relying on their imaginings. Then, come those who have intellectual apprehension of God. Finally, as we have just seen, come those who devote themselves totally to God, to being in God's Presence. This second part ends with a note on the option all people have of strengthening or weakening the intellectual bond between God and humanity which, according to Maimonides, is the human intellect. Those who choose to weaken, or not develop, that bond are far from God.

The third part of this chapter [23] is a set of graded instructions for those who wish to truly worship God. This is Maimonides' authoritative teaching on meditative prayer, on full kavvana. First, one must clear one's mind and recite the Sh'ma in that state. Then, one must extend that technique to the rest of the Sh'ma and then to other prayers. Then, one must learn to reflect upon ( al-'i´tibar ) that which one hears and reads when listening to or studying the Torah, and then the prayers. Then, one must learn to meditate on what one is saying ( ta'ammul ma talfaz bihi wa-'i´tibar ma´nahu ). Throughout, one must always have a mind cleared of distraction and one must practice each stage for a while before advancing. Worldly thoughts, which are necessary for the good governance of family and society, should be engaged in when one is not occupied with mitsvot.

The penultimate stage of this instruction in true worship deals with meditation when one is in a state of quietude and solitude: [24]

When, however, you are alone with yourself and no one else is there and while you lie awake upon your bed, you should take great care during these precious times not to set your thought to work on anything other than that intellectual worship consisting in nearness to God and in being in His presence ( al-´ibada al-'aqliyya wa-hiya al-qurb min 'Allah wal-muthul bayna yadayhi ) in that true reality that I have made known to you and not by way of emotions and the imagination. In my opinion this end can be achieved by those of the men of knowledge who have rendered their souls worthy of it by training of this kind.

The ultimate stage of this instruction deals with being in the permanent and continuous presence of God ( bayna yadayhi da'iman ) even when one is dealing with issues of this-worldly governance. This stage is characterized by the union of the intellect through apprehension of God ( 'ittihad ´uqulihim fi 'idrakihi ), by union with God ( al-'ittihad bi-llah ), and it is called powerful absolute worship ( ´ibada mahda ´azima ). Of this stage it is written in Scripture, "I sleep but my heart waketh" (Song 5:2). This is the level of the patriarchs and Moses. Maimonides is vague about whether persons who live in later times can achieve this state. [25]

The fourth part of chapter 51, part three, [26] is Maimonides' note on providence which ends with his distinction between one who loves God and one who has a passionate love for God in which the distinction between intellectual and post-intellectual love and the use of experiential, mystical language is repeated: "It is as if [Psalm 91] said that this individual is protected because he has known me and then passionately loved me ( lima ´arafni wa-´ashiqani ). You know the difference between one who loves ( 'ohev ) and one who loves passionately ( hosheq ). For an excess of love so that no thought remains that is directed toward a thing other than the Beloved is passionate love ( ´ishq )." [27]

The final part of this chapter on true worship, that is, on philosophic mysticism, deals with old age, death, and life after death. It, too, with great clarity, preserves the two basic insights of Maimonides' spiritual worldview -- that there is a spiritual stage beyond the intellectual, and that it is characterized by a mediative, experiential, indeed mystical mode: [28]

The philosophers have already explained that, when one is young, the bodily faculties impede the attainment of most of the moral virtues and, a fortiori, of that pure thought which is achieved through the perfection of the intelligibles and which leads then to passionate love of God, may He be exalted. For it is impossible to achieve this while the bodily humors are in effervescence. Yet in the measure in which the faculties of the body are weakened and the fire of desires is quenched, the intellect is strenghtened, its lights achieve wider extension, its apprehension is purified, and it rejoices [more] in what it apprehends.

The result is that when a person seeking perfection [29] is stricken with years and approaches death, this apprehension increases very powerfully. Joy ( al-ghibta ) over this apprehension and the passionate love ( wal-´ishq ) for the object of this apprehension become stronger until the soul is separated from the body at that moment, in this state of pleasure ( al-lidhdha ). Because of this, the sages have indicated with reference to the deaths of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam that the three of them died by a kiss.... [30] Their purpose was to indicate that the three of them died in the pleasure of that apprehension due to the intensity of passionate love.... [reference to Song 1:2, "Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth"]....

The sages, may their memory be a blessing, mention the occurrence of this kind of death, which is in reality a salvation from death, only with regard to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. The other prophets and excellent persons ( wal-fudala' ) are beneath this degree. Nonetheless, it holds true for them that the apprehension of their intellects becomes stronger at the separation, as it is said ...

Having indicated that the approach of death makes the philosophic mystical life easier, Maimonides teaches that "excellent persons" of any historical period cannot expect the ultimate "death by a kiss"; however, they can legitimately expect a strengthening of their intellectual and post-intellectual powers such that their intellect will be bound with a fierce passionate love to God and, if death intervenes in the intensity of that moment, they can expect a durable and permanent bliss in life after death. It is the permanent endurance of this state that defines the world-to-come, that is, ultimate existence: [31]

After having reached this condition of enduring permanence ( al-baqa' al-da'im ), the intellect remains in one and the same state, the impediment that sometimes veiled it having been removed. Further, it will remain permanently in that state of intense pleasure ( al-lidhdha al-´azima ), which does not belong to the genus of bodily pleasures....

The whole purpose of this chapter, then, occurring as it does almost at the end of the Guide, was to set forth Maimonides' basic authoritative teaching: (1) that there is a spiritual stage beyond the intellectual; (2) that it is characterized by a mediative, experiential, indeed mystical mode; and (3) that the goal of all religion -- praxis and gnosis -- is the achieving of this post-intellectual mystical state which is the true, absolute, pure worship of God.


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This interpretation of Maimonides, which emphasizes the spiritual within and beyond good praxis ( halakha ) and correct gnosis ( de´a ), will render some scholars uncomfortable.

Most scholars of Jewish philosophy, and indeed the later medieval Jewish philosophic tradition in the west though not in the east, [32] write about Maimonides as if the goal of religion is philosophic theology, the orderly arrangement of doctrine. Such medieval and modern writers have forgotten that philosophy was always only the handmaiden to theology in its broader sense, that philosophy was always only the female slave to religious experience which informs theology. Similarly, most scholars of Jewish mysticism have not addressed Maimonides and, when they have dealt with Jewish philosophy, they have treated it only as the handmaiden, not as the faithful servant, of religious experience. [33] Jewish scholars in other fields have perpetuated the stereotypes generated by their respected colleagues. Our teacher, Professor Georges Vajda, was one of the few who, rooted in the context of Islamic philosophy and mysticism, leaped over the categories to write about philosophic mysticism. [34]

As I grow older and ponder the state of our work in Jewish studies, I think that the reasons for our not giving religious, spiritual experience its proper due in our research and teaching are not complicated. The primary explanation, I think, lies in the general secular, rationalist commitment of academic scholars. Philosophers, among them Jewish philosophers, even religiously observant ones, work in analytic categories that problematize religious experience; spirituality doesn't fit their categories clearly. The same holds true for scholars of mysticism, including Jewish researchers, even religiously observant scholars, for whom living faith and practice is an academic problem; it, too, does not fit the analytic rubrics. In general, spirituality has been hard for academic scholars to study and teach. Heschel, Merton, and others have noted this. [35] For contemporary Jewish scholars, there is also the quintessentially anti-theological stance of the Jew in the post-shoah period. If God, did not save us then is there really a God? Or, at least, let us keep the God Who allowed the shoah at arm's length.

While it is fully understandable that academic scholarship might require bracketing our own religious commitments, it seems more honest intellectually and more profound spiritually to break down the disciplinary and historical barriers that were not part of the mentality of those whom we study but only a part of the worldview of our immediate academic predecessors who, for all their greatness, had a blindspot where intellectualist spirituality was concerned. An even better solution would be, following the feminist movement, to acknowledge our commitments up front and then write and teach from them. Either way, the centrality of philosophic mysticism in the study of medieval Jewish religion will have gained its rightful historical and spiritual place. Spiritual experience is at the core of all religious systems and that we, who analyze and teach such data, must do our best to explicate this phenomenon.

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[*] Esoteric and Exoteric Aspects in Judeo-Arabic Culture, edited by B. Hary and H. Ben-Shammai, 1-18. Leiden, Brill: 2006. Reprinted in Philosophic Mysticism: Essays in Rational Religion, chapter 5. Ramat Gan,Bar Ilan University Press: 2005.

[1] Mishne Torah (= MT), Hilkhot Melakhim 12:1. On a possible allusion to immediate messianic expectation, see A. Halkin, Moses Maimonides' Epistle to Yemen (American Academy of Jewish Research: New York: 1952) xii-xiii.

[2] MT, Hilkhot Teshuva 9:2.

[3] MT, Hilkhot Teshuva 8:8.

[4] On the difference between 'i´tiqad and 'iman, see D. Blumenthal, "Croyance et attributs essentiels dans la théologie médiévale et moderne," Revue des études juives (=REJ) 152:3-4 (1993) 405-13; available on my website < UDR/BLUMENTHAL>.

[5] On MT, see I. Twersky, Introduction to the Code of Maimonides (Yale University Press, New Haven: 1980), reviewed by me in Journal of Jewish Studies 32 (1981) 108-112.

[6] And not hokhma. See carefully, MT, Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah, at the very beginning. On the use of de´a and da´at for "intellect" (Ar. ´aql, usual Heb., sekhel ), see D. Blumenthal, The Commentary of R. Hoter ben Shelomo to the Thirteen Principles of Maimonides (=Comm.) (E. J. Brill, Leiden: 1974) 34 n4 and idem., The Philosophic Questions and Answers of Hoter ben Shelomo (=PQA) (E. J. Brill, Leiden: 1981) 186 n8 and 190.

[7] See for example, P. Fenton, Treatise of the Pool (Octagon, London: 1981); idem., al-Murshid 'ila al-tafarrud (Mekizei Nirdamim, Jerusalem: 1987); idem., Deux traités de mystique juive (Lagrasse, Verdier: 1987), reviewed by me in REJ 148:3-4 (1989) 418-20; etc.

[8] "An Illustration of the Concept 'Philosophic Mysticism' from Fifteenth Century Yemen," Hommage à Georges Vajda, eds. G. Nahon and C. Touati (Editions Peeters, Louvain: 1980) 291-308.

[9] D. Blumenthal, "Maimonides: Prayer, Worship, and Mysticism" (="MPWM"), Priére, Mystique et Judaisme, ed. R. Goetschel (Presses Universitaires de France, Paris: 1987) 89-106; reprinted in Appproaches to Judaism in Medieval Times, ed. D. Blumenthal (Scholars Press, Atlanta: 1988) 1-16; available on my website < UDR/BLUMENTHAL>.

[10] Quotations are taken from Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed (= Guide) , cited by part:chapter. The Arabic is drawn from I. Joel, Dalalat al-Ha'irin (Jerusalem: 1931), cited by page:line. And the translations here are drawn from S. Pines, The Guide of the Perplexed (Chicago, Chicago University Press: 1963) but have been modified by me as I felt the original requires. I have used three devices for emphasis: bold for certain words, citation of the Arabic original, and paragraphing. It is my custom to use egalitarian language with reference to God, except in liturgy. However, I have left Maimonides' gendered language because it is so fundamental to his worldview. This citation is from Guide 3:52 (Joel 464:18; Pines 630).

[11] An "affection" is an ongoing emotion, one which one should have continuously, as opposed to an emotion that is fleeting. Thus, love can be a fleeting feeling, or an affection, that is, an ongoing emotional attitude.

[12] MT, Hilkhot De´ot 6:2.

[13] I agree generally with Scholem and against Idel on the inherent reticence of Jewish writers to use first person autobiographical style to describe their own religious experience, though Idel is surely correct that this genre does exist, more so among mystics than among philosophers. Note that Mordecai Kaplan also refrained from explicit religious autobiographical writing though he was clearly a philosophic mystic (see D. Blumenthal, "On Being a Rationalist and a Mystic," The Reconstructionist 53 [1987] 25-28).

[14] See "MPWM," n. 14, for the references to Guide.

[15] On all these phrases, see below and, more fully, "MPWM."

[16] Guide, 3:51 (Joel 458:12; Pines 622-23).

[17] On philosophic mysticism in Islam, see PQA 55-58, "An Illustration" 291-94, and the references in both places.

[18] Guide 3:51 (Joel 456:15 - 457:15; Pines 620-21).

[19] Ar. al-'insan al-kamil is not the perfect person but one who is seeking perfection, as the grammar and logic indicates.

[20] See, for example, his differentiation between one who loves God (Heb. 'ohev ) and one who has passionate love for God (Heb. hosheq ) (see below).

[21] Pines 618-20.

[22] Pines 620-22.

[23] Pines 622-24.

[24] Joel 458:29; Pines 623.

[25] The key sentence, as Pines notes (624 n32), can be read either way: "Someone like myself cannot aspire to be guided with a view to achieving this rank" or "Someone like myself cannot aspire to guide others with a view to achieving this rank." This is part of Maimonides' general hesitancy about making his deepest teachings explicit which, in turn, is rooted in the difficulty of articulating the Ineffable and in the talmudic prohibition about explicit intimate spiritual instruction ( Talmud, Hagiga 13a, repeated often by Maimonides). It may also have roots in the high respect for the "esoteric" in Islamic civilization in general. (For more on this, see "MPWM," 15 n9.)

[26] Pines 624-27.

[27] Joel 462:14; Pines 627. For the same definition, see MT, Hilkhot Teshuva 10:3, indicating that Maimonides already had in mind the basic typology of philosophic mysticism when he wrote his code. He did not come to this only when he wrote his later philosophical work.

[28] Joel 462:17; Pines 627-28.

[29] On this see above, n 19.

[30] Referring to Talmud, Bava Batra 17a.

[31] Joel, 463:10; Pines 628.

[32] On this, see "Was There an Eastern Tradition of Maimonidean Scholarship," REJ, 128:57-68 and, in slightly different form, PQA, chapter three.

[33] For a fuller analysis of these trends, see "MPWM" n1.

[34] See "An Illustration," at the beginning.

[35] On Heschel and Merton, see S. Magid, "Abraham Joshua Heschel and Thomas Merton," Conservative Judaism 50:2-3 (Spring 1998) 112-25.

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